The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 19, 2024

Class of 2016 graduates at DAR Constitution Hall

The class of 2016 graduated June 8 at DAR Constitution Hall. Photo by Lily Friedman.
The class of 2016 graduated June 8 at DAR Constitution Hall. Photo by Lily Friedman.

Turning their tassels and throwing their caps into the air, seniors experienced their final high school memory.

The Whitman community celebrated graduation at Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall Wednesday. Keynote speaker E.J. Dionne Jr. advised the class on the importance of empathy while senior speakers Nikki Ladd, Josh Feder and Ben Katz reflected on their high school experiences.

Ladd, whose speech provided “road maps” for future endeavours and “simple truths” about life in college, used quotes from Whitman alumni to illustrate that students should rely on one another, even after graduation.

Feder’s speech was comedic, but still communicated every student’s importance in Whitman’s success as the number one high school in Maryland, regardless of their academic or extracurricular achievements. His speech was met with laughter from both graduates and parents.

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“I was one of the worst players on an already mediocre football team—sorry Coach—and was never really picked for a tryout or application until this year,” Feder said. “It’s hard to imagine how someone could avoid feeling discouraged at a school so packed with talented people, but we must remember that every student contributes to what makes us great.”

Katz compared Whitman to Alice in Wonderland; certain cliques parallel different characters, but all seniors unite to make up Alice.

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E.J. Dionne was the key note speaker and Josh Feder, Ben Katz and Nikki Ladd were the senior speakers during the ceremony. Photo courtesy Lily Friedman.

“For four years, Whitmanland has been my Wonderland, and like Alice, we stepped outside of our comfort zones,” Katz said. “We came into high school with a plan of who we wanted to be; my plan didn’t stay the same, and many of yours didn’t either.”

After student speeches, Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post as well as a Whitman parent, spoke about persistence, the importance of valuing every person’s opinion and reaching out to those in need, using self-deprecating humor and anecdotes from his life.

“No matter what goes wrong in life, the answer should always be to keep coming at ‘em,” Dionne said. “Too often people let themselves be driven from the things they love because they don’t think they’re good enough—don’t let that happen to you.”

Throughout the evening, the orchestra and chorus performed, including graduation classics Pomp and Circumstance and America the Beautiful.

For many seniors, graduating alongside their friends was an incredible experience, senior Ian Atkinson said.

“Watching kids you’ve been going to school with since preschool graduate alongside of you helps you understand how tight our community is,” Atkinson said. “I’ll miss playing soccer and baseball for the school team, but I look forward to meeting new people from new places in college.”

Prior to presenting the graduating class of 2016, principal Alan Goodwin memorialized the late senior Tommy Buarque de Macedo and his parents. After, Goodwin gave Tommy’s sister, Helena, his yearbook and diploma. He also took a moment of silence to address three Clarksburg High School students who passed away the day before in a tragic car accident.

Finally, Board of Education member Patricia O’Neil addressed the senior class and distributed diplomas. Senior class advisor Todd Michaels guided graduates in the symbolic tradition of moving their tassels from right to left.

Seniors left the event with not only their diplomas, but the the speakers’ advice and hopes for their futures.

“Please always remember that every single person on this Earth has something to teach you,” Dionne said. “Since all of you are more clear-sighted and brilliant than I was at your age, I’m expecting a lot of you.”

If you missed or want to rewatch the graduation speeches, check out the live stream at The Black&White facebook page.

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Lily Friedman
Lily Friedman, Online Editor-in-Chief

Grade: 12

 

Interests: Writing, sports, politics, music, hiking

 

Why did you join the Black & White?  
I've always loved telling stories, so journalism provided me with a medium to investigate stories in my community and relate those stories to national trends.

Why are you well suited to write/edit for your section or to perform your job?
Last year, I expanded from my base as a news writer to cover everything from county education policy to the reasoning behind my passion for country music. I love writing, finding trends, and compiling information, so my job as an editor is really more of a pleasure than a job for me.

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